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European Commission fines Apple over €1.8 billion for violating antitrust laws

Spotify appealed to the EU after suspecting Apple of restricting competition in the app store

  • 6 March 2024
European Commission fines Apple over €1.8 billion for violating antitrust laws

Apple has been fined €1.8 billion by the European Commission for violating "anti-trust laws," amid an ongoing investigation into the tech giant's treatment of competitors on its App Store.

In a statement released on March 4, The European Commission confirmed that it had fined Apple for "abusing its dominant position on the market for the distribution of music streaming apps."

The commission referenced how Apple had "applied restrictions on app developers preventing them from informing iOS users about alternative and cheaper music subscription services available outside of the app."

“Today's decision concludes that Apple's anti-steering provisions amount to unfair trading conditions” writes the commission.

Last month, The Financial Times reported that Apple could be facing a €500 million fine from the EU, following a lengthy investigation instigated by Spotify over Apple's purported prevention of allowing the streaming platform to link out to an external sign-up — as well as taking a 30% share of subscriptions.

The EU Commission said that by increasing the difficulty in accessing alternative subscription prices, iOS users have been led to pay “significantly higher prices for music streaming subscriptions”.

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A fine of €1.8 billion has been calculated in proportion to Apple’s global revenues to deter the company from any further anti-trust behaviour.

In addition, Apple has been instructed to remove the "Anti-steering" provisions from the App Store.

Formal investigations began in June 2020 after Spotify filed a complaint claiming Apple limited choice and competition in the App Store — this was later escalated last year when the commission sent a Statement of Objections to Apple citing anti-trust concerns.

The statement warned that failure to comply with the EU’s anti-trust laws would result in a fine of up to 10% of Apple’s annual worldwide turnover.

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Apple responded to the decision in a public statement on March 4, pointing out that Spotify, the lead advocate in the investigation, occupies a dominant position in the market itself, with a “56% share of the European music market”.

The statement continues to suggest that “a large part of their success is due to the App Store” for which Spotify pays nothing.

Apple’s statement claims that since 2015, the Swedish streaming platform has met with the European Commission "over 65 times, launching three investigations that previously held no claim."

RA reports that this is Apple’s first anti-trust fine from the European Union and “one of the bloc’s biggest penalties on a technology company”.

Apple has since confirmed that it will appeal the decision made by the European Commission.

Belle Richardson is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter

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